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Preview: Warriors host Thunder. Round 2 - FIGHT! (kidding, no fighting please)

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Two top teams meet for the second time this season, but OKC is now without a key defender.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Golden State Warriors Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

WATCH: TNT

RADIO: 95.7 The Game

They took our mascot, we took their best player

Here’s hoping that playing an emotional rival can revive the Warriors’ focus.

After one of the more interesting weeks I can remember, the Warriors are just trying to hold on to first place until the All-Star break next week. The Thunder beat the Warriors back in November, 108-91, but the Warriors are the better team on paper.

However this next game shakes out, this is matchup two of four between the Thunder and Warriors this year. There’s more than enough beef here to start a legitimate rivalry, though the Thunder are going to have to prove that they can hang with the Warriors in the postseason before this turns into something more than a regular matchup that the guys take personally.

The Warriors are weary

As someone who doesn’t always get his work done on time — and finds himself occasionally surfing the internet rather than working on spreadsheets — it’s not at all hard for me to understand what the Warriors are going through right now. Slacking off through the slow season is fine, I guess, as long as you can turn it back ON when it starts to matter. But that’s the trick right? All these games matter a little, don’t they?

Steve Kerr may not be too worried, but after getting blasted by 30 in Utah, barely winning an ugly game in Sacramento (featuring 25 turnovers by the Dubs), and then dropping a game in Denver that was the first time this season the team blew a lead heading into the fourth quarter.

So, worry as much or as little as you like, but let’s all admit that the Warriors are running on mental fumes right now.

Steve Kerr went off on this a little bit on Monday during media availability, as per Monte Poole:

“The first thing is we’re not taking care of the ball,” coach Steve Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area after practice. “And then it’s about the detail. We’re getting beat on back cuts, boxouts and offensive rebounds. Our 3-point defense has dropped. We’re not challenging and we’re not closing out. And a lot of those 3-point shots come off offensive boards.

“As soon as our effort and our attention to detail picks up, we’re going to be right back where we were.”...“Just gentle film reminders; I don’t need to yell and scream,” Kerr said after practice. “We’re doing fine, but we’ve got to mix in some drill work and film work and prod them a little bit.”

It’ll be interesting to see how much of that resonates, come game time tonight.

The Thunder lost one of their key defenders, but their offense is banging

In a scene all too familiar in the NBA this year, the Thunder lost a key player to a season-ending injury just a short time ago. Andre Roberson is one of those “rangy” defenders that has always seemed to gum up the Golden State Warriors’ offense. In combination with fellow long-armed defensive force, Paul George, the duo covered the wings and forced plays into the able hands of Steven Adams.

Now, Roberson is out and the Thunder defense is starting to slide. Scroll all the way to the right in the table below and just look at how beneficial Roberson has been [note: if you don’t see a table directly below, you can click here to see Roberson’s on/off totals]

Black History Month!

The NBA gets a lot of little things right, not the least of which is their treatment of Black History month. Fans who attend the game tonight will get a ‘Black History is Golden T-Shirt’ and a Splash Towel. Which is cool, but not nearly as cool as hearing about all the good work that the Warriors, and the NBA are doing to support this important month.